Australian Gambling Numbers Fall but Concerns Remain

Australian Gambling Numbers Fall but Concerns Remain

A recent study reveals that gambling levels in Australia are falling year on year. This comes as the government continues its crackdown on the betting industry.

Australian gambling levels study

A study by leading market research firm Roy Morgan, in which 50,000 residents of Australia were questioned about their gambling habits, found that the number of people who gambled had fallen year on year. However, it is believed that these figures do not represent the steady growth of individuals engaging in online betting.

The level of people gambling in Australia fell by 1.5% according to the study – from 50.6% down to 49.1% compared to the same periods in 2018 and 2017.

According to the study, 7.8 million people or 40.9% of the population took part in lotteries or bought scratch cards about once every three months. A total of 3.1 million or 16.4% of the population participated in gaming gambling, such as slots, with 10.2% of the population partaking in sports betting. In total, 9.3 million people or 49.1% of the population engaged in betting during this period.

Speaking about the infiltration of gambling into everyday Australian society, the CEO of Roy Morgan, Michele Levine, said: “Gambling is now an activity which nearly half of all Australians participate in within a 3-month period, but this statistic alone does not do justice to the varying behaviors of those millions of gamblers. They vary from casual scratchie buyers to work friends betting on their footy team to wealthy businessmen at poker tables.”

Crackdown on problem gambling

This comes at a time when the Australian government is cracking down on problem gambling.

In August 2017, approval of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 saw online poker made illegal throughout the country. The previous year, the government had banned overseas lotteries and synthetic lotteries such as Lottoland.

A number of Australia’s provinces have decided to introduce further taxes on online gambling, with the state of Victoria implementing a new tax for online gambling companies, with 8% of net wagering revenues now going towards the state.

Finally, the government has been cracking down on gambling ads. In March 2018, Australian TV channels were banned from showing gambling ads during live broadcasts of sporting events.

In June 2018, the Australian Senate approved a motion which will see an investigation into the random rewards that are purchasable through video games. These are being labeled as loot boxes and the government wants to determine whether or not they constitute a type of gambling and whether young people should be exposed to them.

A recent study said that 45% of the 22 video games analyzed were deemed to be similar to gambling in a psychological sense, despite being deemed appropriate by games rating agencies for adolescents who not legally old enough to gambling.

Loot boxes have become extremely popular in recent years as they provide a lucrative way for video game companies to continue making revenues after the game has been purchased by an individual.

Some of the rewards found in these loot boxes are completely cosmetic: the look of a player’s weapons, different items of clothing for characters in the game. Then there are some games that are said to be “play to win”, in which items found in loot boxes can give the player a distinct advantage over players who don’t have these items. Thus encouraging players to open the loot boxes to try and get a leg up on the competition.

Many of these loot boxes can be bought using real money, and often the items found inside can then be sold for real money. What the boxes contain is apparently determined by chance.

People are spending real money on a chance outcome, which leads to certain individuals winning and other losing. These characteristics are exactly what you’d expect to find in a  gambling activity. While some game developers recognize the issue, and are therefore withdrawing these items from future games (such as Electronic Arts),  others have no intention of taking this route.

This means other parties need to take matters into their own hands. The Netherlands and Belgium have decided that certain loot boxes are illegal. The United Kingdom and the United States have, however, concluded that they are not akin to gambling.

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